NEWS BYTES
War brings record profits for oil group
With a strong wind in their sail, the world's biggest privately owned oil group, ExxonMobil, reported groundbreaking quarterly profits May 1, driven by the war in Iraq and strikes in Venezuela and Nigeria. Their net income of $7.05 billion was more than three times that of last year. Shareholders saw an 8 per cent rise in their dividend.
An end to U.S. bombers on Vieques
After almost 60 years of protests and growing resentment, the final pullout of the U.S. military presence on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques (initiated by Pres. Clinton in 1999) was marked by fireworks, parties, the destruction of U.S. Navy vehicles and the burning of the American flag May 1. The former bombing range will become a wildlife reserve.
CPP lost money on investments
The Canada Pension Plan investment board decided to take a risk last year and they lost $1.1 billion on stock market and real estate investments with CPP funds. The government bonds it kept did well, but not enough to make up the 21 per cent loss suffered. If your CPP contributions get jacked up, you'll know why.
Powerful cancer-fighters
Studies have shown that the two nutrients sulforaphane and selenium have even more powerful cancer-prevention properties when they are combined. High concentrations of sulforaphane are found in broccoli, cabbage and watercress, while selenium is found in mushrooms, nuts and sunflower seeds. So chop some broccoli and mushrooms onto your next homemade pizza for a real winner.
PEI Mussels to the rescue
Despite the bad news in the Maritime fishery these days, Prince Edward Island showed compassion in the misfortunes of others by shipping 9,000 kilograms of mussels to Toronto earlier this month. The truckload of mussels is being distributed to Toronto restaurants to help them recover some losses incurred due to the SARS scare.
No tax is ever rescinded
On 20 Sept. 1917, the Canadian government introduced income tax "as a temporary wartime measure." It has been many years since that war ended, and we are not at war today. But officially, income tax is still on the books as a "temporary" measure. Now, define "temporary".
Govt. destroyed evidence records
Christopher Leblanc of North Bay, Ont. won a $666,000 settlement for his HIV infection in Ontario Superior Court a few years ago, but an appeal saw it overturned due to lack of evidence. Now Leblanc is suing the government for $2.4 million, alleging the deliberate destruction of the evidence he needs. Information Commissioner John Grace, in a 1997 report, said the records were destroyed to prevent them from being made public.
Sea Kings can't see
The Sea King helicopters are apparently not in the good books of allied forces because they are missing new electronic night vision gear, a Canadian Forces report reveals. It claims this lack has caused mission failure, risk to crews and possible exclusion from joint missions with other countries. The Operations Officer at Shearwater base, Lt.-Col. Bruce Ploughman, says the night vision gear is needed but there is no evidence to show that its lack costs lives.
More flushing away of tax dollars
The National Capital Commission spent $250,000 to build an outdoor public toilet in Rockcliffe -- a ritzy, old-money, Ottawa enclave, home to senior public service mandarins and foreign diplomats. Not to be outdone, Winnipeg Mayor Glen Murray put $1 million of his $5 million urban facelift budget to build a toilet on the Provencher footbridge. The world is truly going down the drain.
Sears shines in a world of corporate greed
U.S. law requires that jobs be kept open and available for those called to serve in time of war. It also usually means a pay cut and lost benefits for those called up. Sears is voluntarily paying the salary difference and maintaining all benefits and bonus programs for called up reservest employees for up to two years.
Clash over street videos
Privacy Commissioner George Radwanski is fighting Justice Minister Martin Cauchon on the legality of the continuous surveillance of law-abiding citizens. Radwanski says that video cameras on the streets of Kelowna, B.C. is "a profound violation of our right to privacy, our right to go about the streets and public places of our cities and towns without being under the systematic observation of the police." He's taking it to B.C. Supreme Court if he must.
Code Pink on parade
The Department of Homeland Security recently decided to raise the national threat level from an Elevated to High risk of terrorist attack, or Level Orange. In timely commemoration of this precautionary declaration of Code Orange, the city councillor in Corvallis, Oregon, declared May 23 as the occasion for a Code Pink Fashion Show, to be held outside the County Courthouse. About 50 combined a one-hour peace vigil with a fashion parade, displaying all shades of pink.
Gun registry is scandalous
Originally said to have a cost of $2 million, the gun registry will now see us putting out $1 billion by 2005 and $2 billion by 2012. Of 554 people killed last year, 383 died by stabbing, beating, strangulation, etc. -- only 171 were killed by shooting. Better to spend a billion dollars by allocating $3,200 to investigate those 171 people killed last year. Or cover the costs of police services in Vancouver for seven years. We could suggest a million better uses.
Defining "one billion"
A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a great job of putting that figure into perspective in one of its releases: A billion seconds ago, it was 1959. A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Ottawa spends it!